R54m looted from SAPS to spy, block signals

Date: 21 Feb 2018

SERVICE providers have looted R54 million from the SAPS through unlawful tenders tailored to snoop on protesting #FeesMustFall protests and block cellphone signals, the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) heard yesterday.

The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) told Scopa that procurement processes initiated between March and December 2016 in which the police’s crime intelligence unit irregularly awarded a contract to Brainwave Projects, trading as I-View Integrated Systems, resulted in the state’s multimillion-rand loss.

Ipid’s head of investigations, Matthew Sesoko, said the directorate initiated an investigation and found gross irregularities in the procurement process.

“The procurement was initially for software aimed at monitoring social media sites during the #FeesMustFall protests. The SAPS did not derive value for money and spent R33m,” said Sesoko.

The Sunday Times reported in December that I-View Integrated Systems had sold 2 000 bulletproof vests to the SAPS for R6.7m, with each vest costing taxpayers R33 402.

Sesoko told Scopa that deviation from the procurement process was also done for Daedalus Systems, which blocked cellphone communication between former acting police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane and a team established to counter Ipid investigations into fraud and corruption against him.

The contract between the SAPS and Daedalus cost the state R21m.

Sesoko said investigations into the R54m contracts were delayed because the SAPS had refused to declassify information and documents, which crime intelligence had classified as top secret.

Sesoko told the committee that the State Information Technology Agency (Sita), under intimidation, made further payments to I-View Integrated Systems despite their being irregular and unlawful.

In December 2017, R45m was transferred to the service provider for a “Grabber” system valued at between R7m and R10m.

“Ipid engaged a number of SAPS senior officials, of whom some confirmed that such transactions were being pushed at all cost, resulting in a strained relationship among senior members,” said Sesoko

He added that the payments were laundered by former crime intelligence officer Morris “Captain KGB” Tshabalala to buy votes at an ANC conference.

Tshabalala, a convicted armed robber, stands accused of laundering R50m from the police’s crime intelligence funds to buy votes at the ANC’s 53rd elective conference in Mangaung in 2012.

It was also alleged in journalist Jacques Pauw’s book The President’s Keepers that the crime intelligence unit had used funds to buy votes for former president Jacob Zuma and spy on his enemies.

Scopa chairperson Themba Godi sent letters to the SAPS and Sita to offer them the right of reply to the allegations made against them.

They are also to answer why payments were made to service providers and the delay in declassification of documents and information.

EFF MP Veronica Mente said Scopa should invite the police to answer on who had “rehired” Tshabalala.

“Can we call the SAPS to appear before the committee? They cannot protect criminals like this. One of the areas is when they say they do not know who rehired that man; there’s always a specified police station where the form was completed,” said Mente.

“If we are going to use the police to fight corruption, they must be clean,” said Godi.

By Mary Jane Mphahlele

For more info see: http://www.iol.co.za/the-star